Ask any consumer what their favorite new tech gadget is, and odds-on it won’t be a new PC, but a tablet or smartphone. It’s the same in the enterprise: the number of traditional desktop machines being bought is continuing to slide according to Gartner, with a drop of around 8.4% in sales this year compared to 2012. At the same time, tablet sales for 2013 grew by 53.4% to an estimated 184 million devices.
This changing landscape not only changes the way we work, it also greatly impacts IT service management and support strategies. Gartner recently reported that the volume of requests for support of mobile devices will increase significantly, from less than 10% of help-desk requests today to more than 25% of requests by 2016.
This shift in device types and working locations will lead to changes in the type of support issues that service desk technicians will have to deal with. This will force the service desk to skill up around all those different platforms that will be in use, rather than just understanding traditional desktop operating systems, as well as handling requests in new ways.
To help service desks cope with this influx of calls, there are a number of things that service desk managers and ITSM professionals should consider.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Mobile Application Management (MAM) tools may not provide everything you need
MDM and MAM typically allow enterprises to secure, provision and manage mobile devices, whether they are company-owned or bought in by employees. Most of these activities are performed on a mass scale across groups of devices. But beyond remote locking and wiping features, most mobile management tools provide limited functionality for incident support.
Remote support refers to the tools and technologies that service desks use to access, troubleshoot and control remote systems, typically when an individual has an issue with one specific device or application. Basic remote support functionality has been used for years to access and fix traditional desktops and laptops, but many of the legacy remote access tools don’t work with smartphones and tablets.
Part of the issue is that some mobile operating systems, such as Apple iOS and some instances of Android, limit screen-sharing functionality, but there are a number of remote support tools that let you view system information, configure settings, co-browse, and transfer files to and from the device, which all greatly improve the service desk’s ability to fix an issue. In addition, some solutions offer application-level remote support, where the service desk technician can view and control a specific application.
Users want consistency in their support experience, no matter the device
Unsurprisingly, another limitation with MDM and MAM tools are that they only work with mobile devices. But according to a recent report by Enterprise Management Associates, 87% of all business device users regularly use a PC and at least one mobile device. If users have a bad support experience on one device, this typically drags down their perception of the provider as a whole.
Since service desks normally provide support for end-users that are utilizing both traditional and mobile devices, they should have the ability to use the same remote support tools regardless of what the end user device is. This is important both for efficiency of the service desk – after all, having to run multiple tools to achieve a specific result is a significant drag on productivity – and it enhances the end-user experience if it is seamless and crisp.
New skills will be required for mobile support, and collaboration
As part of its research into service desks, Gartner reports that mobile devices have increased the service desk workload over the last two years for 81% of organizations. However, the majority of these have not increased their staff in line with this. While smarter use of tools like self-service portals, chat technologies and remote support have made service desk professionals more efficient in general, the rise in mobile devices will call for more training and a wider knowledge base across the team.
One way IT teams can boost on-the-job training is by using collaboration functionality and session recordings within remote support sessions. Some solutions allow a front line representative to invite an internal or external subject matter expert (SME) into a session so they can share the case history, do joint issue research, share screen control and ultimately help fix the issue.
Bringing this SME into a support session can help get a customer problem fixed faster, but it also allows the frontline representatives to see how to fix the issue first-hand. It’s even better if that session can be videoed for internal training or used as the basis for a knowledge base article. This means that those esoteric issues can then be dealt with by the first-tier team in the future, reducing costs and improving first-call resolution rates.
The influx of mobile devices into the work place will have an impact on what service desks have to provide to end-users. However, planning for this now should enable service to be consistent and efficient in meeting those ever-changing needs.